Alexi: She was hard to live with. She wants to be a mother, a sweetheart— but they made her barren and a… and a…

Paul Cornell reprised this point in his uncomfortable blending of false memories and arranged marriage. Again we see that false dichotomy: a mother and a sweetheart, barren and a… possibly a less-noble word for warrior. The joke’s on Alexi, here, though, because by Cornell’s take she’d been a fighter long before she feel in with the KGB. If they turned her into anything it was a “sweetheart”— but that can’t be so, because that’s not what the Red Room is for.

A mother, a sweetheart, then, is what Alexi himself wanted from Natasha, a warrior what the Soviet state demanded. What Natasha wants for herself goes unsaid. Like with Lyudmila, there’s an inversion in how this scene is framed. Earlier, Natasha, the good housewife stormed into the same office demanding an intelligence post. And here, though it is Alexi who is dead and Alexi who is wearing the hero’s uniform, it is Alexi who is sobbing, embracing others for comfort.

From Black Widow: Deadly Origin #2, Paul Cornell and John Paul Leon.

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